US judge scraps law banning gender transition treatment in minors

Tuesday saw the first-ever overturning of an Arkansas law that barred juveniles from receiving gender transition treatment, despite identical legislation being passed in Republican-led states.

Because the statute discriminates against transgender persons and infringes on doctors’ freedom to practice medicine, Judge Jay Moody found that it was unconstitutional.

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“The evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the state undermined the interests it claims to be advancing,” the judge said.

Arkansas, a southern state with a pro-conservative slant, was the first to prohibit minors from receiving hormonal or surgical gender change therapies in 2021.

Since that time, about 20 additional US states—including Florida and Texas—have done the same.

The Republican Party is leading an offensive on LGBTQ issues, criticizing gender conversations in schools and even drag queen performances they find to be overly sexualized.

Gender transition treatment laws have already been temporarily suspended while lawsuits continue, but Tuesday’s decision was the first by a federal judge to rule on the merits.

Arkansas District Attorney Tim Griffin said the state would appeal.

“There is no scientific evidence that any child will benefit from these procedures, while the consequences are harmful and often permanent,” he said in a statement.

Plaintiff Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old transgender teen, said he was “grateful” to the judge, who understood how this treatment “has changed my life for the better and saw the dangerous impact this law could have on my life and that of countless other transgender people.”

The decision affects only Arkansas, but activists defending transgender rights were hopeful it will have symbolic significance beyond the borders of the state.

“This decision sends a clear message,” said Holly Dickson, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas.

“Fear-mongering and misinformation about this health care do not hold up to scrutiny: it hurts trans youth and must end,” she said.

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Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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